Sunday December 17, 2017
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Women, do the math and own those five days

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image source: www.fyqyfz.com

By Swara Bhaskar

I skulked home one afternoon from school in a particularly muggy hot Delhi summer month and spent the day cursing fate that I was born a girl. I was 14 years old, in class ninth and had just discovered that my period, the first two awful days (!), were going to coincide with the two days of the annual Leadership Training Camp (LTC) that all class monitors were eligible to attend

The LTC was an exciting and prestigious camp, which only elected student representatives of each class and two nominees were invited to, where through a series of interactive games and sessions with teachers and guest lecturers, students learnt the values of leadership. I had hoped to attend the camp for some years and finally that year I was one of the elected class monitors.

I was excited and bouncing my way through the school corridors till the tell tale stain showed up and all joy was deflated. I spent the afternoon sulking at home. In the evening, my father came home from work. (My mother at the time was pursuing her Ph.D course work in New York, so my father and I, out of sheer necessity, had developed a fairly candid relationship about matters of menstruation!)

He enquired after my long face, and I told him I had to skip the LTC which was the next and the day after. “Why,” he asked. “Because I am starting my period tomorrow,” I answered.

“So?,” he asked

“So I can’t go,” I said. “Why,” he asked again. “Because!” I said, “It’s going to be my first two days…”

“So?” He persisted. The ‘why so’ game was getting to me. “Papa” I snapped. “I can’t be running around playing the games and doing rigorous activities during my ‘down time’.”

“You mean you are physically or medically incapable of doing physical activity at this time?” My persistent father continued to interrogate.

“Oh God, Papa, why don’t you understand? It’s irritating and awkward. What if something happens” (Something was the unspeakable horror that plagued all young girls and women and probably still does, through their entire fertile years)

The fear of ‘something’. Read: What if the tell-tale stain appeared! “Hmmm” Said my father thoughtfully, “Let’s work this out exactly. So these two days you will skip LTC. Then next month again, in those two days you may have to skip something else. So every year, two into twelve is twenty four days of skipping.”

He went on. “You are fourteen now and will probably have periods for the next thirty years, so that’s twenty four into thirty. Seven hundred and twenty days. That’s 17,280 total hours of missing out on things you want to do in life. Only because you were scared that ‘something’ may happen.”

I was stumped. The math seemed accurate and the logic solid. For want of words, I made a face. My gruff father, cleared his throat, “Look your mother would deal with these things better and would know better. I’m a man but it seems a little ridiculous to waste so many precious active days and hours over something that is natural, and happens to half the world population at some point in their life every month.”

He continued in the same vein. “It’s your body and it’s a natural process. Own it instead of hating it or fearing it. And own these two or three or five days. They are as much yours as the other days of the month. But then again, I’m a man. I don’t know about these things.”

I made another face, and stuck my hand out. What, he asked. Give me Rs.150.

Why, he said? “I have to buy sanitary pads, what else, I have to pack for tomorrow”.

Thanks Papa, You taught your daughter a precious lesson that day, to own her body. It’s a natural process and we must own those five days in the month, like every other moment in our life. A lesson I have been applying till today, be it when I have a shoot or have to attend an event.

It’s incredible that sanitary pad brands in India highlight the importance of menstrual management and hygiene that encourages us girls to be confident, unstoppable and not treat those five days as taboo. Seriously girls, just do the math. (IANS)

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Triple Talaq Ban in India: Union Cabinet Passes Bill Making the Practice a Criminal Offence

The BMMA celebrates its victory over the much-debated practice of instant divorce

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Muslim women are often victims of triple talaq, in spite of the ban
Muslim women are often victims of triple talaq, in spite of the ban, VOA News
  • Supreme court had ruled that the practice of triple talaq as illegal in August 2017.
  • On December 15, the Union Cabinet passed a bill which would make it a criminal offence
  • .The bill recommends a sentence of imprisonment for three years in case of a violation.
  • The bill also makes provisions for “subsistence allowance” for the women divorced through triple talaq.

On December 15, the Union Cabinet of India cleared a draft legislation, which would make the controversial practice of triple talaq a criminal offence in India, a violation of which may result in imprisonment for a period of three years for the husband. The recently approved bill, deemed as the ‘Muslim Women’s Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill’, was framed by a group of ministers including the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, and the Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, and was headed by the Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

What is triple talaq

The practice of triple talaq, or talaq-e-biddat, is a Islamic ritual through which a man might divorce his wife by uttering the word ‘talaq’, that is, the Arabic word for ‘divorce’, three times. The controversial practice, which dates back to Islamic scriptures of the 8th century AD, was a common one among the Muslim population in India, often enacted through letters, emails, text messages, Skype and Whatsapp.

The Supreme Court of India bans the practice of triple talaq
The practice of triple talaq still continues, in spite of the ban, VOA News

Triple Talaq Ban

On August 22, 2017, the Supreme Court of India had banned the archaic practice of triple talaq, after a long and hard legal battle fought by the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), also known as the Indian Muslim Women’s Movement. “Triple talaq is against the basic tenets of the Holy Quran and consequently, it violates Shariat … What is held to be bad in the Holy Quran cannot be good in Shariat and, in that sense, what is bad in theology is bad in law as well,” they had declared, making India the 23rd nation to ban the practice of unilateral divorce, after Pakistan, United Arab Emirates and Egypt. Many non-governmental Islamic organizations, along with certain clerics had opposed the verdict, on the grounds that it was an infringement of their right to religion, which is ensured by Article 25 of the Indian Constitution. The Supreme Court, however, had decided to uphold Article 14 of the Constitution, which grants every citizen equality before the law. The verdict had met with mixed reactions among the people of India, attracting applause as well as apprehension all over the country.

The Supreme Court of India bans the practice of triple talaq
Women can now demand subsistence allowance for themselves and minor children, VOA News

However, in spite of the Supreme Court verdict, there have been reports of instant divorces performed through the process of oral declaration, as many continued to ignore the various advisories issued by the government.
The new bill approved by the government also makes provisions for Muslim Women to demand “subsistence allowance” for herself and her minor children from her husband, in case she feels victimised by the now illegal practice of triple talaq.

 

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Women influence, irrespective of the field, is good for everyone, says Farhan Akhtar

Farhan Akhtar says that influence of women irrespective of the field is good for everyone

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Influence of women in any filed if good for everyone, says Farhan Akhtar.
Influence of women in any filed if good for everyone, says Farhan Akhtar. IANS

New Delhi, Dec 15, 2017: Actor-filmmaker-singer Farhan Akhtar hopes that actresses backing films as producers is not just a passing trend as he believes that women’s influence, irrespective of the field, is good for everyone.

Over the years, actresses like Dia Mirza, Priyanka Chopra, Anushka Sharma, Chitrangda Singh and Richa Chadha have shown interest in contributing to filmmaking as producers.

Asked what he thought about the trend, Akhtar told IANS here: “That’s how it should be. Not just actresses, there are also a lot of female producers and women who are working in different companies and handling the creative aspect of those companies.”

“It is amazing to see that. The more influence that we have of women in any field, why just films… it can be sports or politics also, it’s good for everyone because they have a different perspective on things because they have experienced life in different ways from what we (men) have; so, it makes a difference,” added the brother of director Zoya Akhtar.

Farhan’s latest co-production, “Fukrey Returns”, registered an opening day collection of Rs 8.10 crore on December 8. Are box office collections more important when he produces a film?

“The reason you do a film is because you want to share it with the world and when a lot of people see your film, the most tangible recognition of it is the box office collection, because you can aggregate a number through it,” he said.

But for him, success of a film also means “conceptually what is done to get people to think about things”.

“There are many films that were released in their time and not considered box office hits, but what that film meant, the kind of story-telling, the work that went into that film have sustained and at times (they are) considered as landmark films and way ahead of their times.

“So, success of a film can be gauged on many fronts; but is box office important? Of course it is, because people are putting money in a film. You don’t want anyone to lose money,” said the co-founder of Excel Entertainment that has produced blockbusters like “Rock On!!” and “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara”.

The first look of his next co-production “3 Storeys”, starring Pulkit Samrat, Sharman Joshi, Richa Chadha and Renuka Shahane, was unveiled last week.

So, is a multi-starrer the formula for a hit film?

“I don’t think so. Eventually, a good story should be the formula for success… whether it is about one person in a room or 21 people in a colony like in ‘3 Storeys’. Our emphasis is on trying to tell good stories.

“Arjun Mukerjee, who is the director and writer of this film, has truly put together something that we consider very special. Now we are excited to share it with others,” he said.

Farhan is also passionate about fitness, among other things. The actor, who has fronted ads of vitamins and dietary supplements brand, is now endorsing Apollo Munich Health Insurance.

Is he deliberately focussing on health-related brands?

“It is not deliberate. I do feel good about doing it when it does happen. I don’t go around looking for it, but I guess the lifestyle that I lead, the kind of work that I do, information on my life and focus on health and fitness, encourage people to come and speak to me about it,” said the 43-year-old.

When did he start taking fitness seriously?

“I got serious about it in 2003-2004. I was shooting for ‘Lakshya’ in Ladakh. We were there for five months and I felt incredibly fit by the time I came back from there.

“When I returned to Mumbai, my energy levels were really high… it was a feeling that I didn’t want to lose. That’s when I started training with Sam (Samir Jaura), who is my trainer,” said the “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag” actor.

He believes fitness is not about “going to a gym and getting big biceps. It’s much more than that”. (IANS)

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Women’s major role in Shahid Kapoor’s life

Know why Shahid Kpoor says that women have been the strongest and important part of his life

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Women have played a major role in Shahid Kapoor's life
Women have played a major role in Shahid Kapoor's life. IANS
  • Shahid Kapoor talks about how women have played a major role in his life
  • Shahid Kapoor says how the condition of women has evolved in the Bollywood industry

New Delhi, Dec 9: Actor Shahid Kapoor says the strongest people in his life have been women, especially his mother Neelima Azeem who has been a single parent. He also calls his wife Mira and daughter Misha his “whole world” and says he couldn’t have been happier in his life than now.

Shahid spoke to IANS on phone from Mumbai on the sidelines of Reebok FitToFight Awards 2.0, where the brand felicitated women nominees from across the country for their spirit and courage.

“I don’t think there is anything which resonated with me so naturally as this campaign did. The strongest people in my life have been women, starting with my mother. She was a single parent and she was the most powerful and the strongest, and a person I would depend on the most,” said Shahid, who endorses Reebok with Kangana Ranaut.

“Today, Mira and Misha are my whole world and I can’t think of any reason why this initiative would not connect with me. It’s the most natural connect,” said the actor, who also believes women are fitter than men.

“Women know how to deal with situations better than most men do. They are very independent and self-assured,” he said.

So is he going to inculcate these traits in Misha too?

“I want her to discover herself, be respectful towards family and appreciate everything that she has. I want her to spread love and happiness,” he said of his little one, who was born in August 2016.

Coming from an industry where heroines often complain about not getting the equal screen space compared to their male counterparts, Shahid feels the journey of female stars has changed over the years.

“It’s important to recognise roles for their power, for their impact. It doesn’t matter whether it is male or female. I think stories that deserve being told, the characters that deserve being showcased, must be showcased. There is nothing like male or female in art. It’s just about discussing life, connecting with people and saying something substantial.

“I think it’s amazing to see that so much has been created in films which are female-centric and they are loved by audiences. It also goes to show that we have a lot of women in the audience, in case anybody had forgotten,” he said.

And what does he think about pay equality?

“I think it is changing for the positive. I think people are recognising (the issue) and it is all co-related. Today, women-oriented films have started doing extremely well and they have developed a market for themselves. Therefore, the change is naturally happening.

“Like I said before, it’s not about male or female. If you deserve to be paid a certain amount because that is how viable you are, you must be paid that,” Shahid told IANS.

His next film “Padmavati”, directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, is under the scanner for alleged distortion of historical facts about the fabled Rajput queen. The film was scheduled to release on December 1, but was deferred and uncertainty over its release still looms large.

Tired of commenting on the row, he said: “I have spoken enough and I don’t feel the need to say anything more.”

He also said trolls and backlash are problems emerging from social media.

“It’s very easy to pass a comment when you don’t have to be accountable for it because nobody even knows who you are.” (IANS)